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So six months on and I am still with ciao. Have reached 20k points and popped my Ciao cherry so to speak what do I feel?
I was going to one of the many challenges going around, but its not really my style, instead I thought I would do a Ciaoing experience with a bit more about me mixed in. I liken myself to an onion when it comes to speaking about me. I don't have a blog nor would I ever have one, but prefer to peel away a little skin, like the onion you get the papery out side and then you get to the thicker, juicy layers underneath.
So let's peel off a few more layers.
How it all started
I had heard and used Ciao as a consumer when looking for a dishwasher a few years ago. At the time I did not really pay attention to the contributions made by the reviewers, mainly focusing on the price comparisons and the specs.
It was while researching an investment opportunity that I discovered Ciao again. I had a little play around with the site and decided to register and see what it was all about. And so "Getscenic" was born into the world of Ciao on the 19th March 2006.
Having rummaged around in review and survey sites for a month or so, and discovering the likes of Research Now were making money for old rope recruiting people for surveys and paying them next to nothing for hours of work, but never mind as there are plenty more who think they could do the same. Now Ciao is a bit of a different animal. It being a longer term player has built not only a loyal employee base, but one who do not mind working for small amounts of money. The use of community and kudos has worked very well indeed; yes there is a churn of membership, but when I look at members' statistics and length of membership you have to marvel at how loyal you guys are.
So what is it about Ciao that the other sites don't have?
Well the main thing you notice is the lack of contact and supervision from the employers, apart from the occasional invite to a survey, the odd newsletter and community announcement the site is self regulated and you get the impression that we all participate in the progress of each other, advising and encouraging.
There is little abuse or bad feeling. I contribute to a number of financial chat/ bulletin boards and I can tell you that they are sometimes like a war zone, with members being removed and censored weekly. I have only seen a few spats on this site, and have only been subjected to a couple of revenge ratings.
Most people are keen to read and rate and leave comments, all of which I have found positive and friendly. There are some competitive aspects to the site, but they deal with this aspect in a responsible way. The premium fund and diamond scheme garnering support and congratulations from other members to those chosen ones each month.
The gradual increase in community points also spurs members on, both through reading and publishing reviews in an effort to reach the next colour level.
So will Ciao continue to prosper?
The market for consumer surveys and reviews shows no sign of diminishing, more and more new sites are popping up every month, some good, some not so good.
I notice no shortage of new members on Ciao everyday, but there also seems to be a large churn rate, with some members' barely getting passed green before either getting bored, discouraged by low ratings or realising they will never earn anything like their aspirations set out to.
Ciao also seems to attract some good advertising revenue, so I guess the immediate future is secure. Let us hope they resist the urge to accept a possible offer for their huge database of consumer review and content.
It will also be interesting to see how successful the new video review format will work, with £10 up for grabs for the first 500 reviews I can see a few video cameras being dusted off for that late weekend break, though I am not sure if some of our hotels will be happy about someone running around with a camera giving a running commentary about the state of their hotel.
I must say that surveys have been a bit thin on the ground lately, and to be honest that does not really worry me much. Time and again I have dutifully sat down with a 15 minute survey got 20 minutes into it only to find that they have reached their quota of respondents for this survey. Why, I have just nigh on completed this. I have given you just about all the information you needed and I don't qualify. To be fair most of the other survey sites are like this, and as I mentioned above the whole thing is a bit of a rip off and I don't tend to bother with them anymore.
I like many others started out publishing without reading so you can imagine the content of my earlier reviews. I hope some new members take the time to read this as the only advice for new members is to READ, READ, and READ more!
I think Ciao should include a small selection of diamond reviews in the registration process to show new members what they need to attain to get decent ratings.
I only publish two reviews a month; I am amazed by some members who can publish anything up to 10 a week. But all this may change as I now have some enforced gardening leave which will give me a bit more spare time, the reason for this will be a subject of a future review, but it seems I have been the subject of our wonderful employment legislation, where one cannot even have a private conversation with another manager without it coming to the public domain.
I get a number of ideas for reviews and then create word documents for them, once born so to speak I set a layout then fill in the gaps. I find this way I don't get carried away writing the whole thing in two or three paragraphs and I can add or delete sub headings as I feel necessary. Note for new members. Doing your review in word means you can spell check your work and it also picks up most grammar mistakes as well.
I like to read reviews. I think from my statistics you will see I read a lot. Its not healthy to churn out review after review and not read anybody else's, and you find that most people come back and read yours in return which is nice and you get to meet new members this way
I leave comments on most of my COT member reviews, and where I have been impressed by the level of writing or content on others. I do try to help new members with advice where I feel it positive to do so, but I have been subject to a few revenge ratings and some less than positive comments where I have rated low and explained why. I am a bit more measured on who and what I rate these days as I have no time for petty disputes with members over ratings and comments, you can usually see if it is worthwhile advising, and I tend not to rate if I feel the member concerned will not benefit from that advice.
Trust is another area where I have modified my use of this tool. I think all new members will actively look for members to trust them. There are many ways of doing this, which I think we all know about.
I am always please to see another member who has added me to their COT it shows I am doing something right in most cases, though in some you can see it is an obvious ploy to get the trust returned, indeed I have had trust given without the member even reading anything of mine. Please if your going to add someone to your COT do it for the right reason, that being they consistently write good reviews that uphold the standards of a professional review/ comparison site.
I give trust very sparingly now and on the basis that I have read at least 5 good quality reviews and had some sort of comment and dialog with the person I bestow it on, and I would expect the same in return.
My guestbook became a 20 page list which I had to tidy up. I now keep just a few messages on there and hardly ever use Private Guestbook now.
It is always nice to get a message from other members and I must admit that lately I have been remiss about keeping in contact with my COT members, but I always take time to thank a member for E's, of if they have read a number of my reviews.
It is interesting that some people use this site as a chat room, which again enforces the community sprit and loyalty to the site. I wondered the other day after seeing a rather flirty exchange between two members, if there have been any Ciao weddings.
One of the most enjoyable things has been to meet new people, be it virtual meeting, and in some ways that is good. I am not sure if I would go to a Ciao meet as my expectations of the characters I would meet might not live up to the real person, and of course visa versa.
All the traits of society exist on this site, and without going into these let me tell you it is very entertaining people watching on here and I will admit to a bit of Guestbook snooping, well don't you all do it.
The other amazing thing I have found here is just how much people will tell you about themselves. I have read some very harrowing stories about people's childhoods and relationships. I suppose this site offers anonymity and a pretty much sympathetic ear so this maybe one place to unbundled a lot of baggage that cannot be done elsewhere.
The one thing that I have found encouraging is the number of younger members( anyone younger than 25 I class younger) Although there are some who have trouble stringing a sentence together and find the phonetic alphabet easier to spell with, the majority of you guys give me faith in the future. You have a handle on life and what it has to offer and a good moral code. When all around we are told the country and society in Britain is going down the pan I would disagree.
There are some members who I should mention here. Some of which gave me inspiration and advice when I was a new white dot:-
Little Red Hen; the lovely Karen, gave me loads of encouragement and I learned a lot from reading her reviews, and she was the first member to trust me.
Mrs Mopples; Always left nice comments and read all my reviews. Where have you gone, have I upset you?
RICHADA; for car reviews and everything else. A real pleasure to read his reviews
Christianfilmcritic; for everything DVD, when are you and Hot Babes going on the X factor!
Sghawken; again for everything DVD, and no I don't swing in Devon, but thanks for the razor sharp wit.
Sam1942: everything music, fantastic music reviews, and she has just got married.
Gantzgraf who does a mean music review and likes music I like.
Susie191 and Cioamiester1; the female comedy duo. Susie is the Queen of double entendre titles.
Koshkha and Fizzytom; travel reviews where nobody else would tread.
Hewks quality reviews and a real nice gal
Phoniexgreen for inventing new words
Memphisto Chick a great all rounder who has written some real quality stuff in the Café under members' advice.
COOOEEEE Does a great service to new members, me included.
But finally I could not end this without my ciao buddy. He has given me a huge amount of amusement and been a great friend. He has written in a number of guises and has a rare talent of entertaining in his writing. He of course being Dudo Perudo aka THE DICEMAN--- respect.
Sorry if I have not mentioned you, but there are so many great writers here
It has been very interesting looking back over my passed efforts and looking at my COT members. It has bought home to me the enjoyment and pleasure that writing on this site can bring you.
I hope you have enjoyed your Ciaoing as well and thanks for reading, rating and commenting on all my reviews.
really good review on your experiance with ciao, I too enjoy this site and find it a good place to talk to people and make friends.
I have only been a member for about 2 weeks and have already written 11 reviews and hoping too improve.
Pink-Ice-Queen 11.01.2007 15:31
Excellent review...this site is so much more than review writing ...I wish I had read this in my first week...fab idea about the diamonds being included in registration :-)